10 Scariest Curses In Horror Movies (& Why)

The recent horror movie The Black Phone deals with curses in a different way; instead of the typical scenario where the curse sends the recipient to a horrifying fate, it helps the protagonist of the movie. The mysterious black phone cursed with the souls of the past victims of a serial killer offers a way for the living to communicate with the dead, as they join forces to prevent the killer from striking again.

Movie curses are often related to paranormal forces beyond belief, which traps the victims in a constant state of despair. From inherent evil forces to doomed objects, the scariest curses are the ones that offer no way out.


10 Pulse (2001)

Not to be confused with the American remake, pulse is one of the greatest Japanese horror movies out there. Highly atmospheric, the film offers a scenario where the world of the dead is overcrowded, so they use the internet to get to the living. The curse of the movie revolves around the red-taped doors; once you get past them, you’re doomed.

Related: Top 10 Japanese Horror Movies, According To IMDB

Most of the movie is left in the open for viewers to interpret, but the red-taped doors represent the most straightforward horror element of the movie, working as a recurring bad omen. The few that managed to survive the encounter with the ghosts inside the red-taped doors lose their will to live entirely, almost as if their souls disappeared and their body is all that is left. It’s a chilling, inevitable fate.

9 Old (2021)

Old 2021 Twist

M. Night Shyamalan is famous for his popular hit-or-miss plot twists, and his latest movie old ended up being one of his most divisive works. In the film, tourists find themselves trapped on a cursed beach that causes each one of them to age rapidly, reducing their lifetime into a single day.

old plays with forced proximity trope as the strangest group of characters are forced to work together in order to understand the mystery that might cause them to die by daylight. In a matter of hours, children become adults, tumors quickly evolve, and babies are born, spreading chaos and hysteria among the group. old offers a real fight against time, and even if someone manages to survive their curse, they will inevitably have lost precious years of their lives.

8 The Ring (2002)

While fans argue whether the American or Japanese version of The Ring is the best, everyone agrees that the curse of Samara/Sadako is one of the scariest and most iconic in movie history. In the movie, whoever watches Samara’s cursed tape receives a phone call from her warning that the person has only 7 days left. After said time span, the evil spirit kills the victim.

Even though The Ring still holds up today as a great horror thriller, the whole concept of a cursed tape doesn’t really apply to modern times. Even if the curse was somehow updated to viral media it would hardly be completed, because the way to counter it is by making a copy of the “tape” and showing it to someone else. In the widespread scenario of the internet, Samara would be swapping targets every second and likely never end up killing anyone. In the scenario of the film, it’s hands down the scariest horror curse, but it would lack strength nowadays.

7 The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (2017)

Even though The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is more a psychological thriller, the film’s chilling curse comes straight out of a horror story. Renowned surgeon Dr. Steven Murphy sees his life turn upside down when Martin, a young man he befriended, casts an almost-biblical curse on his family; he demands that Steven must kill a member of his own family. If he doesn’t, his wife and two kids will die after three stages: paralysis, self-imposed starvation, and bleeding from the eyes.

What’s so scary about it is the way the curse progresses to something more wicked at each stage; by the end of it, the kids are bleeding from the eyes. Martin is a very strange “the one who knocks” kind of character; he’s mysterious, cold, and extremely manipulative, a puzzling man who manages to put Steven and his family’s fate in his hands. The mind behind the curse, and his sadistic intentions, are left for viewers to interpret but the horrific nature of his plot is scarier than any horror movie monster.

6 The Grudge (2004)

The Curse of The Grudge is something inherent, which makes it something almost impossible to fight against. Also known as Ju-on, the curse is created when someone is violently murdered in a state of powerful emotional agony and rage and inhabits both the victim and their home. That’s what happened to Kayako, a young woman murdered by her husband before he drowned their son, Toshio, and killed himself. Since then, both mother and child haunt their house.

Related: 10 Horror Remakes That Were Immediately Forgotten

The movie takes the haunted house trope to a much more deadly level because the curse goes after anyone who steps foot in Kayako’s house. In her spirit form, she will do anything to catch her victims and she can appear from literally anywhere. Since the curse is related to emotions and not an object or body, it will most likely go on until the house is destroyed, but the ghost within will still come after the perpetrator.

5 Fear Street Trilogy (2021)

Sadie Sink hides with a boy in Fear Street

the Fear Street curse is a complex one, which explains why the story was divided into three parts. The curse revolves around the small town of Shadyside, and locals believe it has something to do with a vengeful witch, Sarah Fier, killed back in 1666; since she was hanged, the town got into a constant cycle of bad luck and killings committed by seemingly innocent people.

Each movie of the trilogy addresses events from different years, as the movie’s titles suggest, while also progressing the main storyline set in 1994 when a group of teenagers become the target of the curse and start being chased by the ghosts of previous Shadyside killers. Each movie gives hints about the true nature of the curse, and how Sarah Fier might actually not be as evil as Shadyside residents think.

4 Shutter (2004)

A ghost sitting stride on a man's shoulders

shutter is a must-see lesser-known Asian horror movie, offering one of the most disturbing twists ever put onscreen. The movie follows a photographer and his wife puzzled by a mysterious pain and the appearance of bizarre shadows and figures in their photographs. Things start to get scary when they find a relation between the series of strange events with their decision to flee an accident scene months ago.

In simple words, shutter‘s curse is the past. The protagonist tried his best to deceive demons from years ago, but they quickly caught up to him. Cursed by an enraged spirit, the photographer finds out that that strange pain in his back was actually the weight of the spirit sitting astride on his shoulders this whole time. The realization of the ghastly things he’s done added to the discovery of the ghost renders him mad with no chance of recovery.

3 Sinister (2012)

Ethan Hawke in Sinister

Sinister is a great slow-burn horror that maintains an atmosphere of dread mystery throughout its whole running time, as a renowned true crime writer, Ellison, tries to understand how and why a family has been murdered in his new home.

Related: 10 Best Ethan Hawke Movies, According To IMDB

It doesn’t take long before Ellison realizes the murders that took place in the house are related to a horrifying curse and a mysterious entity, thus he decides to move out in order to keep his family safe. What Ellison didn’t know is that every other family was murdered shortly after they moved to a new residence, which makes himself and his family the next victims.

2 Candy Man (1992)

the candy man curse is almost like an urban legend, except it’s real and the relentless entity will come after anyone who summons it. The ’90s classic offers one of the most legendary villains of all time: the Candyman, the violent spirit of a black man murdered in the 19th century. To summon Candyman, one must say his name five times in front of a mirror.

Candyman represents decades of discrimination against black people, returning as a vengeful spirit moved solely by rage. What really scares about this curse is the bond that it creates between spirit and victim as the Candyman watches closely every step taken by the person, a hunter playing with the food before brutally attacking. His ghastly aspect doesn’t help either, quickly driving the victim to despair.

1 It Follows (2014)

It Follows - Yara Form

It Follows is a harrowing horror movie that doesn’t need easy scares to make viewers uncomfortable. The film’s curse isn’t only scary but also extremely creative, providing one of the most original entities of modern horror: a mysterious being that is passed from victim to victim by sex.

The curse becomes extremely complex if one stops to think about it; if you can’t beat it, you have no choice but to pass it along. But if the entity kills each new person it passes to, it comes right back to you. However, it’s almost impossible to tell if it returns to you because the entity can look like a total stranger or even a family member. It’s the kind of curse that sticks to the victims even when it’s gone, haunting them for the rest of their lives.

Next: 10 Movies With The Scariest Paranormal Villains

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